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Mobile Information Centre in Manukau next week

MEDIA RELEASE
Transit New Zealand

18 October 2006

Western Ring Route Mobile Information Centre in Manukau next week

Manukau locals can visit the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre next week to find out more about Transit New Zealand’s proposal to use tolls to speed up construction of the Western Ring Route.

A 48-km motorway between Manukau and Albany, the Western Ring Route will provide a south/north bypass of State Highway 1, the CBD and the Harbour Bridge. If Aucklanders support tolling the Western Ring Route, it could be completed and opened by 2015.

Public consultation on the toll concept started on 12 October and people have until 4 December to submit a response form.

Transit New Zealand’s General Manager Transport Planning, Wayne McDonald, says there has already been a lot of public interest in Transit’s toll concept.

“This is a project of regional and national significance, and it’s good to see such a high level of interest,” Mr McDonald says. “Transit has an open mind about tolling. We want to hear the community’s views and welcome informed debate.”

“There are two key questions for Auckland. The first is ‘how important is it to open the whole Western Ring Route by 2015?’ The second is ‘is it worth paying a toll to open it by then?”

A Mobile Information Centre with detailed information materials, maps and specialist consultation staff will be open at the Telstra Clear Events Centre, Great South Road, Manukau, from 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday – Friday and 10am to 2.30pm on Saturday.

“This is your chance to find out more about Transit’s toll concept, how projects in the Manukau area fit into the overall Western Ring Route and how to make your views known,” says Mr McDonald.

Mr McDonald says that while the Manukau motorway extension and Harbour Crossing projects will benefit the local community, most of the travel time savings to motorists and businesses from access to a free-flowing motorway will only be seen when the entire Western Ring Route is opened.

“Until then, as various projects along the route are completed, congestion will just shift on to the unfinished segments. The real improvements in travel time savings come on-stream when the whole route is finished.”

Transit is estimating that by 2021, for a peak-time charge of $7, a completed, tolled Western Ring Route would save motorists 35-40 minutes on the full-length trip between Manukau and Albany ($2006).

As well as bringing completion of the Western Ring Route forward by as much as 15 years, Mr McDonald says tolling offers other advantages.

“If the Western Ring Route was un-tolled, it would quickly become as congested as State Highway 1. Tolling will ensure we can sustain those travel time savings and help keep the motorway free-flowing.”

“Tolling also works well with public transport initiatives. Not only will public transport be exempt from tolls, passengers will benefit from more reliable travel times.”

Mr McDonald says Transit is very conscious of concerns in Manukau about increased congestion on local roads if motorists try to avoid paying a toll.

“Over time, we’ll be able to increase or decrease toll tariffs along the route, making sure tolls are set at a level which are attractive and minimise rat-running onto local roads, while keeping motorway traffic running smoothly.”

As part of its consultation programme Transit is also meeting with the Manukau City Council and has offered briefings to all the Community Boards along the Western Ring Route.

Key features of Transit’s toll concept:
• The Manukau Harbour Crossing will remain free and un-tolled.
• Average speeds for a completed, tolled Western Ring Route in peak periods are forecast to be around 80-90 kilometres per hour. This compares with current peak period speeds of between 40-50 kilometres per hour on State Highway 1.
• Reduced tolls in off-peak periods.
• No tolls for public transport and emergency services.
• Electronic toll collection.
• Tolls to be adjusted up and down to manage demand, within a cap of $10 for the entire route and no more than $2 at any one toll point ($2006).

ENDS


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